Ipswich Art Gallery is fortunate to be the only gallery in South East Queensland to host a national touring exhibition featuring the works of Arthur Boyd, a prominent and central figure of Australian art history.
The exhibition ‘Landscape of the Soul’ features more than 60 paintings, prints and drawings, and covers his work from childhood, right through to his last exhibition in 1997 and it is an honest reflection of a man who spent his life speaking with a brush.
Boyd was born into a family of artists – painters, sculptors and architects – and he began to create works after he left school at the age of fourteen. After attending night classes at the National Gallery School in Melbourne, Boyd decided the school wasn’t the right fit for him and ventured out into the art world on his own.
His earnest communication, honed outside of technical instruction is part of what makes his work so striking, and why it sits so well within the Australian landscape both physically and metaphorically; the raw spirit expressed in broad strokes.
His career saw him grouping with similar impressionist artists like Sidney Nolan, John Perceval and Albert Tucker who would come together to form clubs driven by ideological ideas like the Heide Circle and the Angry Penguins.
These artists sought to push the boundaries of the Australian art world, pairing philosophy with artistic practice and, like all good things created by young people, titillated the status quo. His 1941 conscription strengthened Boyd’s exploration of social and political issues and extended them into pure representations of loss and shame.
These are often paired with scenes reminiscent of the Bible, set against the Australian bush, resulting in an astounding way of looking at a familiar scene. Deb Ely, Chief Executive of the Bundanon Trust, mused that this was Boyd’s way of expressing and processing his, at times troubled, internal landscape; by projecting it onto an outer one. The Bundanon Trust was created in 1993 when Arthur and his wife Yvonne gifted their house at Bundanon and later copyright to all his works, to the Australian government and people. Previously it was hard to view the artwork outside of visiting the Trust in New South Wales, making this regional tour of Landscape of the Soul a special opportunity for many. The exhibition has been touring since January and will go for the next two years, to be shared generously and openly with the Australian public. The exhibition was curated by Barry Pearce, a close friend of Boyd’s and a Emeritus Curator of Australian Art at the gallery in New South Wales and features select works from the NSW and state galleries. The free exhibition is on show until August 18 and can be viewed from 10am till 5pm daily at the Ipswich Art Gallery.